New Outlooks in Guatemala: Parsons Students Help Grow Businesses in Summer Studies



Seven students from across Parsons The New School for Design recently returned from summer study in Guatemala, where they spent 10 days helping local artisan groups with their business practices. Spearheaded by Cynthia Lawson, assistant professor in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons, the trip allowed the students to put their design skills to work in tangible ways, helping the artisans to design promotional materials, devise better marketing strategies, and set fair prices that will allow them to make a living way and grow a sustainable artisan business.

Hashel Al Lamki (BFA, Architectural Design), Isabella Amstrup (BFA, Integrated Design), Tatom Henrich (BFA, Product Design), Aakriti Kumar (BFA, Product Design), Brianna Morris (BBA, Design and Management), Arielle Paredes (BFA Integrated Design), and Mindy Tom (BFA Product Design) prepared for the trip by taking the spring course Designing Collaborative Development, offered jointly by Parsons and the graduate program in International Affairs where the students learn about strategies to promote small-scale development by engaging local communities.

This is the third consecutive summer that Parsons students have traveled to Guatemala to work with local artisans. The experience has been so rewarding—for both the artisans and the students—that Lawson plans to continue it next year, with discussion to expand the program beyond Guatemala.

Reflecting on how their experiences in Guatemala enriched their studies at Parsons, students wrote in a letter to Provost Tim Marshall, “The past two weeks have given us a new outlook on life. We all have different skills sets and ways to tackle problems, bringing that together in a practical setting helped us use the knowledge we acquired in our program at Parsons.”

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